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Son's first bull (UT)


Well-known member
Jul 8, 2019
Well, a year ago, I wrote a post about my son's process and journey with getting his first big game animal when he shot his general deer during the youth early season. When we were looking at our hunting plans for this year, my son was all in on elk. He told me to get him a point for deer, but that he only wanted elk tags. We had cow tags in WY and hunted them in September. He wasn't able to shoot one, but I did. Then, I went out and shot a decent deer during the muzzleloader season. Having not pulled the youth draw tag for elk, we were relegated to the general season for his elk tag. I reviewed with him the success rates, pressure, etc. for this tag, but like I said earlier, he was all in. We had a ton of discussions about what he would shoot and what he would pass. He had his sights set high and wanted a good branch antlered bull with at least 4 points per side. He did not want to shoot a spike. I told him if it were me on this tag, I would be pulling the trigger on anything branched, but I was not going to pressure him on his hunt.
We decided to head out Thursday before opener to find areas to camp and scout. The basin we wanted to be in was beyond overrun on Thursday, and I couldn't even imagine what it was going to be like on Saturday morning, so we started looking for other areas. In the process, we were on a pretty rough forest road and driving directly into the sun. I couldn't see much of anything and there was a tree that had been cut, but was still hanging into the road a bit and I hit it. It completely busted my headlight on the truck. That evening we went back into town so that. I could order a new one. It wouldn't be in until Saturday evening.
Friday, we began scouting some new areas. We were going into some areas and throwing some cow calls to see if we could hear any elk respond in the area. Not looking specifically for bulls, just trying to locate general areas where there would be elk. Around 3:00 in the afternoon, we came up on a meadow and got out and threw a few calls out and decided to change shoes and make a walk around the meadow to look for any sign. About 5 minutes after calling, my son looks up from tying his boots and said “Elk! Big Elk!” I look up and sure enough a good bull had walked out of the timber into the meadow looking around for the cows that were calling. The pic isn’t great, but you can see what we were looking at.J elk 10.jpg
The bull stayed out looking for about 8 minutes before deciding there wasn’t anything there and trotted back into the timber, but not really spooked. There were trucks in the area, but it wasn’t completely overrun, so we felt pretty good about our plan in the morning. We were going to set up and try and ambush the bull in the morning. We knew we wanted to be in the meadow well before light to claim the spot. That night, we had some conversations around what if a smaller bull comes in and my son was adamant that on opening morning he wanted to wait out for that bull.

We got up around 4:45 and were in the meadow by 5:15. It was a chilly, but beautiful dark morning at 9500 ft. There were a lot of other hunters in the area, but no one stopping and sitting the meadow. Once legal light hit, I began calling. We heard a few bugles, but weren’t sure if it might be other hunters or an actual bull. Regardless, we sat at the meadow until about 10:00 and didn’t see anything. We packed up and decided to go hike around in a nearby area and just stop and call pretty frequently. About an hour later, we realized there was smoke nearby. As we drove out, we discovered that the forest service had begun a controlled burn only a few hundred yards from the meadow we had been in. By mid afternoon, the whole canyon was filled with smoke and you couldn’t see or hardly breathe in it. We pulled camp and drove back home because the headlight had come in. I got the headlight fixed and we started making a new game plan for the following morning. We got up and scouted some areas and talked with a number of other hunters who seemed frustrated by the different areas being burned without notice. The one sign that was up had a phone number to call for more detailed information about the burns. I called it and it said that no burns were scheduled for this weekend??!! Oh well. Nothing we could do about it but keep trying. That afternoon, we noticed that the canyon with the meadow seemed clear and no smoke, so we drove up through it. Some of the piles were still smoldering, but it didn’t appear there was any other fires being set. And the canyon was void of people. I asked my son if he wanted to head to a new area or give the meadow a try again knowing that it was likely the bull and other elk may have moved out due to the smoke.


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He wanted to hunt the meadow. We set up around 3:00 and began calling. We didn’t see or hear anything for an hour. Then, we started hearing shooting. Someone who had been in the canyon the previous day shooting was letting off shot sequences of 8-10 rounds at a time. We were close to giving up on the area and I decided to call a couple more times. We got a bugle response. About 4:45 the bull walked back out into the meadow at 250 yards. He was facing straight on. I told my son to just wait for a broadside. About 5 minutes later the bull had moved about 20 yards closer and went broadside. My son let the 140 gr. Sierra GameKing fly from the 7mm-08 and the bull just dropped. I couldn’t believe it. His patience and persistence for finding the bull he wanted was astounding.

Walking up to it, we realized that the meadow was really more of a marsh and was covered in anywhere from 1-6 inches of water. The bull also had gone down directly in a small creek that was about 10 inches deep. Butchering was going to be a challenge for sure. We also realized though that the bull was a 6x6 and a little bigger than what we originally thought.

It was after 5:00 when we started the butchering process and we were going to be soaking wet by the time we finished, so I wanted to get it done as quickly as possible. We were able to get the truck to about 400 yards from the bull and I began breaking him down. My son was able to pack both front quarters and the bags with backstraps, rib meat, and scraps to the truck himself. I only had to pack the rear quarters and we carried the head together.

I can’t explain the pride, excitement, and total thrill it is to see my son accomplish this goal. We have only lived in this great state for a little over 3.5 years, and had never hunted elk or mule deer before moving here. To learn as much as we have learned and for my son to have accomplished this is simply awesome.


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Dream come true on many levels right there. Congratulations! Can't wait for the day my packers are ready to start toting meat ha. Well done!
Dream come true on many levels right there. Congratulations! Can't wait for the day my packers are ready to start toting meat ha. Well done!
It was a game changer on this hunt. When we were in WY and shot the cow, I only had him carry the bags with boneless parts and not the quarters. He said he was ready to try the front quarters and he handled them well. Because he was hauling meat back to the truck, I was able to stay there breaking it down and we got the whole thing done in 2.5 hours.

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